Book Review: The Speed of Falling Objects by Nancy Richardson Fischer @nfischerauthor @InkyardPress @The_FFBC

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Title: The Speed of Falling Objects
Author: Nancy Richardson Fischer
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult

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The Speed of Falling Objects
Nancy Richardson Fischer
Inkyard Press, October 2019
ISBN 978-1-335-92824-5
Hardcover

From the publisher—

From the author of When Elephants Fly comes an exceptional new novel about falling down, risking everything and embracing what makes us unique. Don’t miss this compulsively readable novel about the most unlikely of heroes.

Danger “Danny” Danielle Warren is no stranger to falling. After losing an eye in a childhood accident, she had to relearn her perception of movement and space. Now Danny keeps her head down, studies hard, and works to fulfill everyone else’s needs. She’s certain that her mom’s bitterness and her TV star father’s absence are her fault. If only she were more-more athletic, charismatic, attractive-life would be perfect.

When her dad calls with an offer to join him to film the next episode of his popular survivalist show, Danny jumps at the chance to prove she’s not the disappointment he left behind. Being on set with the hottest teen movie idol of the moment, Gus Price, should be the cherry on top. But when their small plane crashes in the Amazon, and a terrible secret is revealed, Danny must face the truth about the parent she worships and falling for Gus, and find her own inner strength and worth to light the way home.

To enjoy a book, I don’t necessarily have to like the protagonist and that’s a good thing because I had a bit of trouble liking Danny. Sure, she had a disability but, after 10 years, you’d think she would have learned to accept the loss of her eye with a modicum of grace but not so much. Granted, bullies have made her life uncomfortable and she’s had to cope with an absentee father but there are a lot of people worse off than she is so my empathy for her was limited. Having said that, she doesn’t hold a candle to her father when it comes to being a narcissistic douchebag and he actually made me feel a little kinder towards her. At the very least, we see Danny gain some maturity during the coming ordeal and I did appreciate that.

The setting for the core story, on the other hand, was pretty darned great. I love disaster/survival tales and, for sheer terror, you can’t do much better than the Amazon rainforest. I just can’t imagine having to deal with all the dangerous critters, the enormity of the landscape, the fear that survival is not a given.

Bottomline, while I really couldn’t care much for any of the primary characters, the plane crash and its aftermath saved the day, so to speak, and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to read The Speed of Falling Objects.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2019.

About the Author

I’m a published author with children’s, teen and adult titles including: The Golden Globe, Lyric’s World and Promises (Junior Jedi Knights Trilogy) for LucasFilm (Berkeley Press), Feel No Fear, The Power, Passion and Politics of a Life in Gymnastics (Hyperion), Monica: From Fear to Victory (HarperCollins), A Journey: The Autobiography of Apolo Anton Ohno (Simon & Schuster), Nadia Comaneci: Letters to a Young Gymnast (Basic Books), and Winning Every Day with Shannon Miller (Bantam Books).

I’ve written for a circus, a graduate school, tried my hand at waitressing (I was terrible!), baking carrot cakes (I was messy but good!), and been lucky enough to ultimately do what I love – write.

I live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband and our mostly wonderful (but sometimes vorpal) Vizsla. When I’m not conjuring a story, I love to kite-board, bike, ski or plan adventures with my two guys, who both make me laugh for different reasons and are the best partners in fun a gal could ever imagine.

If you want to learn more about my latest novel, When Elephants Fly (publication date September 04, HarperCollins/Harlequin Teen), please visit my website: www.nancyrichardsonfischer.com

Author Links:
Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads // Instagram

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Win a copy of the SPEED OF FALLING OBJECTS
by Nancy Richardson Fischer (US Only)

Starts: 25th September 2019
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Book Review: Damselfly by Chandra Prasad

Damselfly
Chandra Prasad
Scholastic Press, April 2018
ISBN 978-0-545-90792-7
Hardcover

This book wastes no time pulling readers into the plot. Samantha, a scholarship student at a fancy private school comes to in pain and disoriented. The last thing she remembers is an unexpected landing of the private jet she and the other members of the school fencing team made on their way to Japan for a tournament. More details come to her as she begins searching for her best friend, Mel and finding the body of another male team member begins what becomes a twisting tale of survival and suspense on what they eventually realize is an isolated tropical island and that there’s nothing usable remaining from the jet after it crashed. As the two best friends encounter other team members, Mel, with Samantha’s help, tries to bring order to the group by assigning chores, educating the others about the importance of maintaining their water supply without contaminating it, what plants are edible and the need to keep a signal fire lit at all times.

It’s not long before ugliness sets in, some due to teen hormones and the social structure back at the school, but more from racial issues, in this instance, reverse racism. Add in issues of ecology, a strange creature stalking the teens, selfishness plus mental illness and you have a virtual stew pot of impending disaster. The story will remind many readers of a modern day version of Lord of the Flies. As things go further and further south, the division among the teens widens, then fractures. After a couple tragedies, Sam and Mel finally realize that saving the group is beyond their power and they must come up with an alternative that will save themselves. Read the book to see how they accomplish it.

It’s an overall good story. I have a couple very minor quibbles. I would have liked more exploration of the relationship between siblings Rittika and Rish, as well as whether Sam and Mel’s friendship had hidden layers.

Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS, October 2018.

Book Review: Crow Mountain by Lucy Inglis

Crow MountainCrow Mountain
Lucy Inglis
Chicken House (UK), September 2015
ISBN 978-1-910002-35-3
Paperback
Chicken House (US), May 2016
ISBN 978-0-545-90407-0
Hardcover

Sixteen year old Hope lives in London with her extremely feminist, scientific researcher mom. She has very little contact with her actor father who took off with his pregnant co-star around the time Hope was born. Mom is extremely controlling…Of Hope’s schooling, her diet, what she can do, pretty much everything.

When Mom heads off to do an ecological study on a Montana ranch, one of the few remaining unspoiled ones that practices environmentally friendly ranching, she drags her daughter along, even though Hope wants to stay in London and be with her friends.

Crow Ranch has been in operation since the 1870s and run by the same family. When a handsome young man, Caleb, the owner’s son, meets Hope and her mother at the airport in Helena, she feels an immediate attraction, but her shyness keeps her from saying anything. When they stop in Fort Shaw and the local sheriff harasses Cal, as he prefers to be called, while hinting to Hope about unsavory behavior in Cal’s past, it’s her first inkling that there’s trouble ahead.

It doesn’t take long for Cal and Hope to start talking and become very aware of their growing mutual attraction. After he shows her the room above the barn where she can hide out from her mother, Hope discovers a diary written by a girl named Emily who was on her way to an arranged marriage in San Francisco via Portland Oregon, by stagecoach in the early 1870s. She’s fascinated by the story and takes the diary with her the following day when she and Cal head off through back country roads in the national forest on a trip to get Cal’s mother who has been caring for her sister in law following a broken bone. They’re also hauling a horse trailer as they’re to bring back a couple horses.

At this point, the book begins to alternate chapters between Hope and Cal following a scary accident, and diary entries telling the story of Emily and the mysterious young man she first sees outside her hotel room in Helena, as they encounter an eerily similar fate. To say more might spoil the plot, but I can say that first off, I bought this immediately following my reading of her other book, City of Halves, which is equally stellar.

This is an excellent book, part adventure, part love story, part historical fiction and a book that forces you to keep reading because of the tension and uncertainty facing both couples. It’s one that deserves a place in many libraries, both school and public.

Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS, October 2015.

Book Reviews: Take the Fall by Emily Hainsworth and The Lifeboat Clique by Kathy Parks

Take the FallTake the Fall
Emily Hainsworth
Balzer + Bray, February 2016
ISBN 978-0-06-209422-3
Hardcover

From the publisher—

WHO KILLED GRETCHEN MEYER?

Fear grips the residents of Hidden Falls the night Sonia Feldman and her best friend, Gretchen Meyer, are attacked in the woods. Sonia was lucky to escape with her life, but Gretchen’s body is discovered at the bottom of a waterfall. Beautiful, popular, and seemingly untouchable, Gretchen can’t be gone. Even as Sonia struggles with guilt and confusion over having survived, the whole town is looking to her for information. . . . Could she have seen something that will lead the police to the killer?

At the top of the list of suspects is Gretchen’s ex-boyfriend—and Sonia’s longtime enemy—Marcus Perez. So when Marcus comes to Sonia for help clearing his name, she agrees, hoping to find evidence the police need to prove he’s the killer. But as Gretchen’s many secrets emerge and the suspects add up, Sonia feels less sure of Marcus’s involvement and more afraid for herself. Could Marcus—the artist, the screw-up, the boy she might be falling for—have attacked her? Killed her best friend? And if it wasn’t him in the woods that night . . . who could it have been?

From the moment Sonia stumbles out of Hidden Falls Park, battered and frightened nearly to death, her family and the local police are full of questions about what could have happened and then word spreads that her best friend, Gretchen, is missing. Not long after, Gretchen’s body is found at the bottom of the falls and suspicion soon points to Gretchen’s former boyfriend, Marcus. His arrest doesn’t lead to comfort, though, because he has an alibi and is released.

Tension rides high in this story as Sonia becomes more and more desperate to remember enough details of her attack to help find the killer. Out of desperation to get back to as normal a life as possible, she returns to school and to the circle of friends who were actually better friends in past years. As time goes by, Sonia begins to acknowledge that, perhaps, Gretchen was not such a great friend but she also begins to have serious doubts about some of the people around her. Could one of them be the killer?

Sonia is a very likeable girl if far too impulsive and she matures in front of the reader’s eyes as she copes with the tragedy and the fear of who might still be out there wanting to do her harm. She’s surrounded by loving family but, as might be expected, that’s not enough and it may be that friends like Haley and Aisha, the boys in the group like Tyrone and Kip, even a belligerent former friend like Reva, will be the ones to help her recover. They could also be harboring the killer.

There are motives aplenty but, in the end, the identity of the killer/attacker is unexpected and I have to admit I didn’t see it coming until about 3/4 of the way in. This doesn’t mean the author didn’t play fair; far from it as it all makes total sense. I’m not sure if I was just being dense or if Ms. Hainsworth really did craft a surprising reveal but, either way, she got me and I’m impressed. This is the second book I’ve read by Emily Hainsworth and it most certainly won’t be the last if she keeps writing this well.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2016.

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The Lifeboat CliqueThe Lifeboat Clique
Kathy Parks
Katherine Tegen Books, March 2016
ISBN 978-0-06-239396-8
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Some people might say that Denver has a death wish. Why else would she dare to sneak into a Malibu beach party where she’d be surrounded by enemies?

Oh yeah. Croix. Denver never thought in a million years he’d ask her out, but who is she to question this miracle of fate?

Well, that isn’t the only surprise fate has in store.

During the party a tsunami hits the coast of California, and Denver and a handful of others escape death and are swept out to sea. Of course, one of her fellow castaways is none other than her ex-BFF, Abigail, who can barely stand the sight of her.

Trapped on a small boat with the most popular kids in school and waiting to be rescued, Denver wonders what might kill her first—dehydration, sunstroke, or the girl she used to think of as a sister?

My goodness, this book is kind of a mess and, yet, I couldn’t look away. There are far too many coincidences, such as a tree that just happens to be in the right place at the wrong moment, and the whole idea of the tsunami borders on being silly BUT…somehow, it works. In particular, the tsunami provides the setting needed for this character study and the lack of plot really doesn’t matter too much. The thing I really liked is that there are only five teens on this boat floating out to sea so we really get to know each one.

Generally, the issue is that Denver has been ostracized by these other kids, led by her former BFF, Abigail, and Denver claims to not know why. In the following weeks, running out of food and water and losing hope while they drift, they have nothing to do but talk and truths begin to come to light. Perhaps most important, they all learn a great deal about each other and, in some cases, begin to care.

These five—Denver, Abigail, mean girl Sienna, blabbermouth Hayley and drummer/stoner Trevor—are interesting and they all have their own insecurities as well as unexpected strengths. I found myself wishing that they would be found before it was too late but also hoping, if they survived, that they’d remember what they learned about themselves and their boatmates.

It’s unfortunate that the story drags in places and that there is little tension even in their direst moments but I did still enjoy it. Billed as “darkly humorous” and “savagely funny”, the labeling isn’t quite right as it has its funny moments but there’s not much to laugh at once the tsunami hits. It’s a quick read and not very deep—even the worst times didn’t cause me to feel any real emotion—but I think the author’s aim, to have these teens open up to each other and show their true colors, was a good one.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2016.

Book Review: Waterfall by Amber Garr

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Title: Waterfall
Series: The Water Crisis Chronicles #1
Author: Amber Garr
Publication Date: April 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopian

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Book Review: Adrift by Paul Griffin

AdriftAdrift
Paul Griffin
Scholastic Press, August 2015
ISBN 978-0-545-70939-2
Hardcover

Reading Adrift is like floating on the ocean, basking in the sun one minute; being tugged under icy, churning waters the very next. It’s a kick-ass story delivered in an almost detached voice, packing a powerful punch. It’s gritty and raw, in a naturally understated kind of way. The story of two guys living on the border of Brooklyn and Queens with summer jobs in Montauk, selling cold drinks and ice-cream on beaches starts quickly, gaining momentum as it unfolds.

The brother-like bond between the boys is easily evident early on. Subtle suggestions of a shared, sinister moment are intriguing. An impulsive gift of slightly melted Klondike bars to three strangers (one of which is a beauty with a heart-stopping, crooked smile) immediately integrates two very different worlds and forces them to embark in a volatile, enthralling, seafaring expedition.

“Five of us went out on the water that night. None of us
came back whole and not all of us came back.”

The story is, quite simply, stunning. A cunning confirmation of the importance of perception is rare and remarkably well done here. Reaching conclusions quickly, accepting the “obvious” answer when studying only one, very limited, view can be disastrous. The snippets of correspondence among law enforcement, searchers and rescuers interspersed with the narrative are shocking and scary in their simplicity.

Mr. Griffin weaves a wicked good tale; flirting with foreshadow while revealing bits of the characters’ past, creating a web of questions, confusion and abruptly apparent answers. With a diverse cast of captivating kids, an epic and mysterious escapade-turned-mission, and authentic dialogue, Adrift will have mass appeal. Appropriate for the middle-grade reader but too broad to be limited, Mr. Griffin’s upcoming survival story will be an awesome addition to anyone’s Summer Reading List.

Reviewed by jv poore, July 2015.

Book Review: The Blast by Sarah Perlmutter

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Title: The Blast
Author: Sarah Perlmutter
Publication Date: December 15, 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, Young Adult

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The BlastThe Blast
Sarah Perlmutter
Sarah Perlmutter, December 2014
ISBN 978-1-312-42188-2
Trade Paperback

From the author—

After a series of blasts force Beatrice Hicks and her family into their prepper bunker, they emerge to discover they are among the survivors of a nuclear apocalypse. Fighting against rogue groups and coping with deaths are just some of the adjustments Beatrice must make to survive, but how will she maintain her humanity after the blast?

The first thing that caught my attention about this book was the cover. Gray, so much gray, and that’s what the world would look like for many years after a nuclear apocalypse.

The next thing that caught my attention when I turned the first pages was Beatrice’s age, 10. Nearly all young adult fiction begins when the protagonist is already a teen but, in The Blast, we get to go along with Beatrice as she grows up in this world of gray. That is an interesting way for Ms. Perlmutter to tell the story, allowing the reader to truly understand this young girl’s impressions and how they and her surroundings shape her future. In more ways than the obvious one, Beatrice will never be 10 again.

The writing here is a little lightweight and stilted, for lack of better terms, meaning things happen too quickly and are sort of glazed over and the dialogue, in particular, is not always natural. The aftermath of the bombing is not terribly realistic and there were occasional blips in the story such as Mr. Timmons, a science professor, being so naive about the aftermath of a bomb and believing the government would take care of everything. Also, Beatrice’s dad and then the others go outside the safe room mere hours after the bomb fell when that surely would have doomed them to a very painful death from the radiation but, when all is said and done, Ms. Perlmutter has crafted a tale that is much more than the usual post-apocalyptic story. Not much attention is paid to the world outside but this is a study of some decent people who survive such an event and how they continue to survive and, yet, still retain some of the kindness and love that is in the best of us. It’s a story of family and that makes The Blast a bit different from the usual nuclear holocaust novel.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2015.

About the Author

Sarah PerlmutterSarah Perlmutter is the Wattpad featured author of THE BLAST, a young adult post-apocalypse novel.

Outside of the young adult genre, Sarah has published poems and flash fiction through Mash Stories, Millennial Garbage, the Pittsburgh History and Landmark Foundation, and the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project.

When she is not writing, Sarah enjoys spending time with her husband and cat, cooking food that is far too spicy, making arts and crafts, and teaching high school English.

For more information about Sarah and her writing, check out her website.

Author Links:

Website  //  Goodreads  //  Twitter  //  Facebook

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